Governor Phil Scott Reflects on Legislative Session in Closing Days
At a press conference Thursday, Governor Phil Scott reflected on the 2019 legislative session, praising lawmakers for working with him to ensure civility, even in areas of disagreement.
Below is a full transcript of Governor Scott’s remarks:
Governor Scott: As we appear to be reaching the end of the legislative session, I wanted to take some time today to reflect on the work the Legislature, as well as my team, have done on behalf of Vermont.
In January, I shared my belief that we could set a standard of civility and good government that would be an example across the nation. That we could remind a completely polarized country - where too many see their side as always right, and the other as all wrong - that there is still more that unites us than divides us, and that compromise is not a weakness, but a strength.
I committed to focusing on our areas of agreement, on working towards consensus and compromise when we can, and to listen to all ideas to grow our economy, make Vermont more affordable, and protect our most vulnerable.
And I asked lawmakers to give my ideas a fair shot - to hear us out and to work with me to keep the focus on the merits of our proposals, not political scorekeeping. Today, I want to thank the Legislature for doing just that. Together, we’ve set a positive tone, focused on the issues.
We’ve already come together to show that good policy making comes through balance and collaboration.
One example is a bill I signed this week, which will allow the Department of Financial Regulation to consolidate our licensing statute by over 70 pages, which will lead to better compliance and more efficiency. The truth is this bill won’t get much attention because it doesn’t sound all that exciting and there wasn’t any drama around it, but it’s an example of good government.
Another example is the Budget Adjustment Act I signed. It includes many good initiatives and retired an interfund loan that will take care of part of our debt. Again, good government.
In addition, while we don’t know where we’ll end up, we’ve made progress this session in addressing our demographic challenges by leveraging our assets and focusing on workforce development.
For starters, the Administration, the House and the Senate have made significant investments in our cradle-to-career education system by helping working families access high-quality childcare. Both chambers have also supported higher education in order to keep opportunities within reach for Vermonters wanting to go to college.
In the area of workforce development, the Legislature has moved forward with many of our recommendations to fill the good jobs we know are available now and recruit more people to Vermont, knowing we can’t address the challenge just through training programs.
Every job we fill, takes some of the tax burden off someone struggling to get by.
Now, I think we all recognize that in these final days, tensions will rise and there will be areas where we just can’t come to agreement.
I’ve already shared my concerns about raising taxes and fees above and beyond what I proposed when we’re looking at more than a $50 million surplus and a potential revenue upgrade. But disagreements are ok - it’s just part of the process, and we’ll work through it.
Regardless of any end game drama and tension, I think we’ve proven that the spirit of genuine collaboration and of a good faith give-and-take with the civil tone we’ve practiced this session are important.
Because with the demographic challenges we all acknowledge exist, the growing budget pressures and the economic challenges of too many of our 251 towns, cities and villages, we must do all we can to solve the problems our state faces and help the Vermonters who elected us.
I’m hopeful we’ll close out this session feeling, on both sides, like we took important steps forward for Vermont and we’ll be ready to do so again next year.
So, I send my thanks to legislators and my team for all the good ideas, and hard work, still to come.